Home Training Tips: Low Cost Ways to Improve Your Defensive Shooting

Nearly 100% of the people reading this article have a murder prevention tool in their home: a gun.  Much like a fire extinguisher, a gun can help solve a life-threatening crisis in your home or on the street.  But merely having a firearm does not make you proficient in its use any more than buying a fire extinguisher will turn you into a fire fighter.  You must train with that tool if you want to use it correctly in a high-stress situation.


There are many firearms training schools around the country, and quite a few of them are very good.  However, many shooters find it difficult to find the money in the family budget to cover the tuition costs, while others simply don’t have enough free time to attend a multi-day class – especially one that requires travel.

So, here are a few ideas that you can try to help develop your skills on the cheap.

Dry Fire

One of the most fundamental aspects of accurate shooting, and a skill that is frequently neglected by shooters, is trigger control.  Poor trigger control is probably one of the most diagnosed problems in any shooter who is missing the target.  No matter how steady your aim, if you are jerking the trigger, the bullet will not go where you want it to.  In a violent encounter, it is critical to get rounds on target to stop the attack.

Dry fire can be a simple fix to your trigger control blues.  Using an unloaded gun (please triple check – mistakes can be tragic), you can practice a smooth press of the trigger repeatedly over the course of several weeks.  This will help your brain and muscles build in a “habit” of correctly working the trigger.

The process is simple:  tape a target to the far wall of your garage or bedroom, assume a comfortable stance, align the sights and press the trigger.  The best thing to do is to place a penny on the front end of the gun:  if you jerk the trigger, the penny will fall.  As your trigger control becomes smoother, the penny will stay in place through many trigger pulls.


Spending five to ten minutes a day, for several weeks, can vastly improve your shooting.  You will see it the next time you head to the range.


The act of reloading won’t improve your shooting, but it can allow you to have more ammunition, and therefore more training time, for the same amount of money you are spending now.

When I first started carrying a gun for a living, I bought a Dillon Square Deal progressive loader in .38 Special.  I’m not sure how many thousands of rounds I cranked out using that simple, but very effective, loading machine.  Although reloading can be a fun hobby, I saw ammo production as a tool to get more time on the range – and it helped do exactly that.

My Smith & Wesson model 10 probably put a few tons of lead down range during the course of the nearly two years I carried it; I was shooting every week.  I easily became one of the best shooters in my department, and those skills have stayed with me through the years.

If you have slightly more free time than spare cash, I highly recommend reloading for your primary defensive caliber.  Saving a little money for a progressive reloader, like those available from Dillon, will allow you to crank out a massive amount of ammo at a fraction of the cost buying new.

Laser Training System

There are multiple laser training systems on the market now.  They allow you to dry fire a firearm and obtain instant feedback on how well you are doing.  Think of it as a really advanced version of putting a penny on the end of the gun.


There are several systems on the market that can help improve your shooting.  The first is the SIRT from Next Level Training.  The SIRT (Shot Indicating Resetting Trigger) pistols are based on the Glock design and automatically reset the trigger (no need to rack the slide).  There is also a SIRT bolt replacement to train with your AR15.

The SIRT system uses two lasers:  the first activates when you are pressing the trigger, while the second activates only when the trigger breaks.  The first laser is showing how well you are keeping the gun on target while pressing the trigger, while the second laser shows you were the round would actually go.  This can help diagnose problems with anticipation and flinching.

The second system is a combination laser and target system from LaserLyte.  With this system, you install a specially made laser into the barrel or chamber of your firearm and dry fire at a special, battery operated target.  The target will record where your shots hit.  You can also use the laser without the target for the same feedback as the second laser on the SIRT.

Each system offers advantages, but neither is perfect for every person.  The SIRT system appears to be a more effective tool when partnering with a second person who can provide feedback to the shooter.  It also allows for automatic reset of a Glock-like trigger system without the need for operating the slide.

The LaserLyte is much better suited for someone practicing alone, and the laser emitters are caliber-based, allowing you to install one in virtually any gun chambered for the .380 ACP, 9mm, .40 S&W or .45 ACP.  However, there are no training options for an AR or other long gun.  Also, with any striker-fired pistol (Glock, Smith & Wesson M&P, etc), you will have to work the slide after every shot.


The SIRT pistols start at $219 and go to $439 depending on several options.  The AR bolt is $150 or $250 depending on options.  The LaserLyte lasers are $87 – $109 and the target is $219.

Getting quality training from a firearms instructor is the best choice for anyone seeking to improve his or her shooting.  However, if time and money preclude you from getting to a professional course, using these tips can help improve your shooting without a huge investment.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member